Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition

Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. Nearly half of all drug arrests each year are for marijuana-related offenses, the overwhelming majority of which are for personal possession. These arrests fall disproportionately on blacks and Latinos, even though white people use marijuana at similar rates. Many of those who are arrested are saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain educational loans, get a job, secure housing, or even adopt a child. Additionally, the huge number of marijuana arrests each year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice, and treatment resources at enormous cost to U.S. taxpayers.
 
The Drug Policy Alliance works to reduce the number of marijuana related arrests and associated penalties through crafting and advocating for legislation removing or reducing criminal penalties, initiatives making marijuana arrests the lowest law enforcement priority, and community based policy changes.  
 
DPA also works to expose and reduce rampant, system-wide racial disparities in marijuana arrests. DPA has released reports documenting and detailing chilling disparities in New York City and across California and continues to raise awareness about the unique burden U.S. marijuana policy places on black and Latino communities.
 
Marijuana prohibition has also caused incalculable violence and destruction by fostering an illegal marijuana market.  Organized crime, drug cartels, and gangs are the greatest financial beneficiaries of marijuana prohibition. In Mexico, illegal marijuana sales have contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of lives.

Colorado Supreme Court Affirms Employers Rights to Fire Medical Marijuana Patients for Off-Duty Marijuana Use

Advocates Call for State and Federal Reform Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients and Legal Adult Users of Marijuana

Today the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed lower court decisions allowing employers to fire employees for marijuana use while off-duty.  The decision hinged on the state’s lawful off-duty activities statute.  The Court held that in order for the off-duty conduct to be considered “lawful,” it must be legal under both state and federal law.  The unanimous decision was not a surprise to advocates working to reform marijuana law and policy in Colorado.

Contact:

Art Way 720-288-6924
Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Expected To Sign Marijuana Sentencing Reform Law

New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Would Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The Louisiana legislature voted yesterday to reform its state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. If signed into law, it’s expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

Contact:

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Yolande Cadore 646-508-1790

TODAY: Congress Voting on Numerous Amendments to Reign in Troubled Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Amendments Would Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws; Shut Down DEA’s Controversial Bulk Collection Surveillance Programs; Cut Agency’s Budget

Amendments Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of Agency’s Head, Michele Leonhart

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the U.S. House of Representatives considers the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill today and tomorrow, legislators could vote on at least seven amendments designed to reduce the power of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and cut its budget.

Contact:

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Bill Piper 202-669-6430

Thursday Event: Everything You Wanted to Know About Marijuana Reform in New York

Leading Elected Officials, Advocates, and Industry Experts Answer Questions About NY’s Medical Marijuana Law, How to End Marijuana Arrests, and Upcoming Legislation to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

Event at abc home to Benefit the Drug Policy Alliance’s Work to Fix New York’s Broken Marijuana Policies

What is the status of medical marijuana in New York? How can one get a medical card or a dispensary license? How can we end racially biased marijuana arrests in New York? Will NY tax and regulate marijuana like Colorado and Washington? Come get the answers to these questions and more. Join the Drug Policy Alliance, along with leaders in the marijuana industry, policymakers, experts, and patients to get an insider perspective on the state of marijuana policy reform in New York.

Contact:

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Tony Papa 646-420-7290

Louisiana Senate Approves Bill to Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Bill Now Heads to the House

Louisiana’s Senate took an important step toward reforming their state’s harsh marijuana possession law when they approved bill SB241 by a vote of 27-12 yesterday. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

Contact:

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Yolande Cadore 646-508-1790

Marijuana Concentrates

May 21, 2015

There are over 500 chemicals in the marijuana plant and about 80 of those are cannabinoids, which are the active ingredients. Concentrate producers harvest these from the plant and create a substance made up of only these active ingredients, similar to juicing an orange. Concentrates are usually ingested via inhalation, but can also be ingested orally and are often used as an ingredient in infused edible products.

Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

Law Would Allow Second Chance for First-Time Offenders and Save Millions of Dollars

Bill Heads to Full Senate

Lawmakers in Louisiana took a major step toward reforming the state’s harsh marijuana possession law when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reform the state’s harsh marijuana possession law. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

Contact:

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Yolande Cardore 646-508-1790

de Blasio Administration To Make Substantial Reforms to Non-Criminal Summons System in NYC

Common Sense Changes Will Make Summons System Easier to Navigate and More Transparent, and Will Allow City to Track and Address Racial Disparities

Changes Announced After Months of Negotiations with Community and Advocacy Groups

New York — Today the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio’s announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view.

Contact:

Kassandra Frederique (646) 209-0374
Alyssa Aguilera (917) 200-1446

Marijuana Arrests in Colorado After the Passage of Amendment 64

March 25, 2015

This report provides comprehensive data on marijuana charges and arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. The report compiles and analyzes data from the county judicial districts, as well as various law enforcement agencies via the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The report finds that marijuana arrests have drastically plummeted in Colorado following the passage of Amendment 64.

New Report Provides Comprehensive Data on Marijuana Arrests and Charges in Colorado After Legal Regulation for Adult Use

Marijuana Possession, Cultivation and Distribution Charges Down a Total of 80% Since 2010

More Good News for Colorado as Marijuana Legalization Continues to Gain National Momentum

(Updated 4/24/15) *Note*: Following the publication of this report last month, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) was contacted by the Colorado Judicial Branch (CJB). The CJB notified DPA that the data CJB provided to DPA was incorrect.  According to CJB’s Court Programs Analyst, the query used by CJB to compile the data “duplicated and in some cases quadrupled charge counts” for the years 2010 and 2011.  Below is a revised press release with a link to the revised report, which reflects the CJB’s corrected data.

Contact:

Art Way, 720-579-1265
Tony Newman, 646-335-5384

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